Spot rates in the Asia-Europe trade lane eased this week, the second consecutive week of decline, as Maersk Line said it is joining other carriers in cutting some capacity in the trade in an effort to prop up freight rates. Rates have declined since carriers put through a general rate increase in July ranging between $400 and $500 per 20-foot equivalent unit.
The World Container Index of spot prices in the trade from Shanghai to Rotterdam, compiled by Drewry and the Cleartrade Exchange in Singapore, fell $78 on July 19, or 0.2 percent, to $3,411 per laden 40-foot container from $3,489 per FEU on July 5, when the WCI jumped 13.1 percent from the previous week.
Maersk Line confirmed it has removed some capacity from the Asia-Europe trades during the past month, joining other carriers in preparing for more rate increases at the beginning of August. Like the CKYH alliance, which announced it is skipping some port calls on the route, Maersk will also omit some port calls.
“The background is to replace older tonnage with newer more energy-efficient vessels,” said Timothy R. Simpson, a spokesman for Maersk Line in the U.S.
The easing of rates after a big general rate increase reflects the pattern of small declines that has been going on all year after carriers implemented four big rate increases in the trade. Carriers have nevertheless been able to hang on to most of their four GRIs, which means they are now operating in the black in the Asia-Europe trade, according to Bimco.
Despite the pattern of rate decreases after each GRI, this week’s WCI is still 177.33.6 percent higher than the WCI of $1,230 per FEU on Jan. 5, which reflects the carriers’ discipline in maintaining those rate increases until the last several weeks. It is also 126.5 percent higher than the index of $1,506 per FEU in the same week last year.